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Move Over, Super Bowl; It’s Time for the Toilet Bowl

After yet another disappointing loss last week to the New Orleans Saints, the 2-7 Chicago Bears cannot dwell on it for very long, as they are back at home to take on the 1-7 Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. For many fans (of both teams, really) this game is being dubbed as the “Toilet Bowl,” because this is a match-up between two of the worst teams in the league. However, because both teams are struggling, the game does have potential to be pretty fun.

First, let’s talk about the visiting Panthers. They’re coming off of a loss of their own, losing 27-13 to the Indianapolis Colts at home. Their rookie QB, Bryce Young (who Carolina traded for the Bears #1 overall pick for) struggled mightily in the game, going 24/39 with 173 passing yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. This performance came against a Colts defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in yards given up per game. Chuba Hubbard was the leading rusher in the game with 16 carries for 58 yards, and the leading receiver was Hayden Hurst with two receptions for 54 yards. Their offense has been pretty bad of late, but their defense has been a bit better, ranking 5th in the NFL is passing defense, but also ranking 28th (out of 32 teams) in run defense. And this middling defense will be without star pass rusher Brian Burns and solid defensive back C.J. Henderson on Thursday night, so the Bears will have opportunities to attack this porous Carolina “D.”

And now, for the Bears. As mentioned earlier, they’re coming off of a tough loss to the Saints, 24-17, in which they were given numerous opportunities to tie the game in the fourth quarter, and couldn’t capitalize. It’s looking like Chicago will roll with Tyson Bagent once more at QB, as it was announced Wednesday by head coach Matt Eberflus that Justin Fields “wasn’t medically cleared” to play, and is officially doubtful for Thursday’s game. However, they have been pretty competitive in their last six match-ups. Three of their last four losses have only been by one score. But will they break through? Offensively, it’s been a solid run game but a struggling passing game. D’Onta Foreman ran for 83 yards against New Orleans, a team that is around league average when it comes to stopping the run, ranking 17th in the league in that department. This, along with Khalil Herbert possibly returning to the backfield, it should be a field day for the running game against one of the worst run defenses in the league.

As for the passing game, Bagent will have to work around one of the better pass defenses in the league, even with one of Carolina’s better defensive backs out in C.J. Henderson. DJ Moore will be playing against his former team for the first time, so there’s a storyline there. Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet will hope to build off of their solid performances against the Saints (Kmet catching two touchdown passes). And with Brian Burns out for Carolina, it will be interesting to see how the offensive line will hold up against a depleted Panthers pass rush. Defensively, new defensive end Montez Sweat will play his second game as a Bear, and we’ll see if he can continue to make an impact against a weak offensive line in Carolina. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is out for the second straight game, as is defensive back Terell Smith, who is missing his fifth straight game because of an illness.

As for my prediction for the Thursday Night Toilet Bowl, I think it’ll be an ugly game, but relatively high-scoring. I think Burns and Henderson being out will ultimately doom the Panthers. I have the Bears running game (with former Panther Foreman) having a big night against a bad run defense, and the pass rush to get after Bryce Young and force at least one turnover. Bagent will manage the game well enough to get the win in front of the Soldier Field crowd.

Bears win, 27-17.

By Jermale Dabney, Junior, Lindblom Math and Science Academy

Instagram: @jermale_d

 

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Written by Jermale Dabney

Hi, I’m Jermale! I love roller coasters, theater, and Chicago sports.

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